Breathable zip-up for cool weather riding?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Breathable zip-up for cool weather riding?

    Any suggestions for a reasonably priced, breathable zip up for riding down into the mid-40s? I have a Patagonia R1 Zip Jacket that is just about perfect but I'm balking at the price tag of getting another one.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Mid 40s for me would be a vest with long sleeve jersey most likely. A jacket would be too much when working hard. Just a long-sleeve jersey or maybe a regular jersey over it if I'm working real hard. For extended downhills, I'd pull a packable-jacket out of my pack/frame. The lightest weight packable jackets are decent for that kind of thing. A zip-up jacket as thick as that would just make me overheat most of the time, plus, you can't easily pack it away when you start heating up.

    I'd be looking for a packable jacket with pit-zips. Something that will reasonably stop some wind. These can pack down to about the size of your fist, making them easy to stow.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    I'm with Jayem. Mid 40s is about 7 degrees Celsius. That's borderline balmy for me. The only risk I run at those temps is heating up and sweating before I have time to de-layer (which Jayem mentioned in another thread is one of the most critical errors anyone can make - there is no turning back from there).

    I normally layer a short sleeve shirt, and two long sleeve jerseys for those temps. Sugoi thermal tights and mid weight lobster gloves. Helmet with no ear or head protection (although I keep a head band handy just in case). Sunglasses. Merino wool socks and Solomon non thermal (but GoreTex) hikers.

    I just bought my daughter a RaceFace Nano jacket. They come in men's too. Time will tell how well it performs but one thing for sure - that thing packs away to nothing. Very impressive minimalism going on with it. Inexpensive too. You may wish to check that out.

    For cooler temps, I wear my trusty 10+ year old Kona jacket that has unzippable sleeves (which double as massive pit zips with the sleeves left on).

    Now, when the temps drop waaaaaaay down, that's when I pull out the heavyweight merino wool socks, the Solomon thermal hiking boots, the merino wool base layer, multiple mid layers including some fleece, shell pants, my Kona 2 in one jacket, 45 North Cobrafist pogies, a skull cap, a vented neoprene face mask, goggles, and my helmet. Good to go to 35 below.

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    Hmmm, some good food for thought. Long sleeve base and a vest sounds very promising. I'm in the Bay Area so mid-40s is about the lowest temp I will encounter during daylight hours.

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    I have been using a Brooks light weight running fleece. Its like ribbed and really comfortable.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiddyHitch View Post
    I'm in the Bay Area
    That's definitely a "chilly" 40 degrees.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  7. #7
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    For those temps, I use Endura Humvee 1/2 zip jerseys. They are made a little thicker than typical jerseys and are just right for that in between temperature when it's too cold for a short sleeve and too warm for a jacket. 3 pockets in the back and the ability to unzip halfway if I get too hot are nice too.

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    As long as its above 0 degree celsius I run shorts. On the upper body a wool mesh and then thin merino t shirt and a wind jacket if its windy.

    Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Mid 40s for me would be a vest with long sleeve jersey most likely. A jacket would be too much when working hard.
    I should have clarified that jacket just refers to the style and not the function. Its actually a form-fitting, lightweight mid layer made out of a grid fabric where the squares are thicker for insulation and the lines are thin for breathability, if that makes sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    That's definitely a "chilly" 40 degrees.
    Not sure if youre teasing, but I readily admit that Im a soft Californian who drives out of his way to deal with (and play on) snow.

    Quote Originally Posted by mykle View Post
    As long as its above 0 degree celsius I run shorts. On the upper body a wool mesh and then thin merino t shirt and a wind jacket if its windy.
    Are you from Minnesota or Michigan? That may be but move out here and within two years, you will be reaching for your jacket when the mercury dips into the 50s. Yall get soft like the rest of us living out here for a while. Seen it many times over.

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    Thanks for info

  11. #11
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    If you're the Bay Area I'm sure this is a damp 40deg. Move away from a fleece products like the R1 and go with a merino base layer and a thin highly breathable soft shell jacket or vest.

  12. #12
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    I'm a Gore BikeWear fan. Their jackets have consistently worked the best for me.

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    Unless you are planning to ride in Pacific NW conditions, the answer is wool. Full stop.

    Advantages of wool over man made materials - 1) it doesn't get the funk, ever; 2) its warm even when wet, either with sweat or misty condensation; 3) its a renewable resource, sheep make it whether we are involved or not and do so in eco-friendly way. Another advantage: if you take care of it (reduce mechanical washing, store in a good spot) it will last generations. You can find 50 year old Woolrich gear on eBay all the time. 50 years from now, there won't be Kitsbow jackets for sale on eBay.

    Here is what you are looking for: https://www.varusteleka.com/en/produ...ip-black/35228

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    Unless you are planning to ride in Pacific NW conditions, the answer is wool. Full stop.

    Advantages of wool over man made materials - 1) it doesn't get the funk, ever; 2) its warm even when wet, either with sweat or misty condensation; 3) its a renewable resource, sheep make it whether we are involved or not and do so in eco-friendly way. Another advantage: if you take care of it (reduce mechanical washing, store in a good spot) it will last generations. You can find 50 year old Woolrich gear on eBay all the time. 50 years from now, there won't be Kitsbow jackets for sale on eBay.

    Here is what you are looking for: https://www.varusteleka.com/en/produ...ip-black/35228
    That looks amazing. Great post.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    Unless you are planning to ride in Pacific NW conditions, the answer is wool. Full stop.

    Advantages of wool over man made materials - 1) it doesn't get the funk, ever; 2) its warm even when wet, either with sweat or misty condensation; 3) its a renewable resource, sheep make it whether we are involved or not and do so in eco-friendly way. Another advantage: if you take care of it (reduce mechanical washing, store in a good spot) it will last generations. You can find 50 year old Woolrich gear on eBay all the time. 50 years from now, there won't be Kitsbow jackets for sale on eBay.

    Here is what you are looking for: https://www.varusteleka.com/en/produ...ip-black/35228
    While I love wool, I'd like to point out some issues with your post.

    First, wool definitely gets a funk. It's a very different funk than what synthetics get, but it definitely gets a musty funk. I guarantee that your BO plus the already-musky lanolin from the wool is not a pleasant aroma.

    Second, you overhype its performance when it's wet. It still sucks if you wet your gear out from sweat when it's cold out. It still means you put on too much stuff. What REALLY sucks about wool is that when you wet it out, it's going to stay wet much longer than synthetics. Ok, so it does insulate a bit better than cotton when it's wet. That's really not saying much.

    Wool also does not make for good shell layers. It's great for insulation. It's comfy for base layers. But it's too breathable for use as a shell.

    I'm with most of the others here who say they're barely dressing up for temps in the 40's. I'm typically still wearing shorts, unless it's cloudy, damp, and windy. On my upper body, I've typically moved to long-sleeved base layers. Maybe layered with a short-sleeved one if it's a thin base layer. But no way have I moved to insulating jackets/pullovers. I have a really light shell that I wear for wind and/or damp mist in that temp range, but that's all.

  16. #16
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    https://www.pearlizumi.com/US/en/Sho.../p/11121630027
    The thermal jerseys by Pearl Izumi are breathable. I really dislike an outlayer that doesn't breathe. The thermal jerseys are a fleecelike material that is warm and comfortable. Pearl Izumi's non "thermal" jerseys are too light to provide much protection. I would stay away from those if you are riding in under 50 degrees.

  17. #17
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    What Jayem said.

    An extended downhill sweated out in 40 is flippin cold without some type of windblock. I really like running/wind jackets for this type of riding. You can pick up a marmot wind jacket for <$60. Out here we have a lot of climb to descend type of riding. I'll sweat on the climb no matter the temp. At the top I'll put on the light jacket and be good to go. From there I'll simply unzip it to try and regulate temps. I'll still sweat but at least I'm comfortable temp wise. For rain I'll treat the same jacket with nikwax spray...works well enough.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTTURNER View Post
    The thermal jerseys by Pearl Izumi are breathable. I really dislike an outlayer that doesn't breathe.
    breathability is not all-or-nothing. it's a spectrum. the amount of breathability necessary is going to depend on the specific conditions you're dealing with.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    breathability is not all-or-nothing. it's a spectrum. the amount of breathability necessary is going to depend on the specific conditions you're dealing with.
    Yep, and there's a huge difference between moving relatively slow in the trees vs. being blasted by wind. The requirement changes.
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  20. #20
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    I have several options that I picked up used at a local used gear shop:
    1. A Cannondale jacket with a lightly lined wind front and sleeves and the whole back panel is a thin Lycra type breathable material.
    2. A thin and packable Voler jacket which is a thin nylon shell with panels under the sleeves and down the sides which are a thin and breathable Lycra-type material.
    3. REI CO-OP Brand cycling windbreaker, which is not breathable, but is light and comfortable unzipped on climbs and easy to zip for descents.
    4. Pearl Izumi vest with windbreaker front and mesh back.
    5. Sugoi rain jacket with pit zips and rear pocket that doubles as a vent.
    6. Showers Pass rain jacket with pit zips and back vent.
    For temps in the 40's, I wear a long-sleeve polypropylene base layer, a standard short sleeve jersey, and one of the above jackets, and bring arm warmers in the jersey pocket in case I need them.

  21. #21
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    Amazon has a ton of past season Vaude jackets at deep discount. Find something in your size that fits what you're looking for:

    https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/8...web_3049603011

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    First, wool definitely gets a funk. It's a very different funk than what synthetics get, but it definitely gets a musty funk. I guarantee that your BO plus the already-musky lanolin from the wool is not a pleasant aroma.
    If you soak wash wool (which is what you are supposed to do with high wool content clothes), the funk goes away. (If you air them out after a ride, you don't have to wash them every time you ride.) With man-made materials, they tend to have diminishing returns on the funk factor with washing. Vinegar, etc. just seems to not work after awhile. Before long, you end up with clothes that are retch inducing no mater how much you wash them. That isn't the case with 100% wool items. You can always reset the funk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Second, you overhype its performance when it's wet.
    As I said, "unless you are in NW Pacific conditions". The OP's home of San Fran is anything but. A nice wool insulating layer with a windbreaker when needed (which the OP likely has) is all one needs. BTW, I ride in MN winters with all wool save for the butt shorts and the shell (Duluth Trading Company pants/jacket). For this time of year (0d to 20d), is a light wool base layer top/bottom, a light wool jersey and aforementioned pants/jacket. For colder weather, its heavy duty wool base layer, a wool jersey and aforementioned pants/jacket. Oh, I have light and heavy wool balaclavas too.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post
    If you soak wash wool (which is what you are supposed to do with high wool content clothes), the funk goes away. (If you air them out after a ride, you don't have to wash them every time you ride.) With man-made materials, they tend to have diminishing returns on the funk factor with washing. Vinegar, etc. just seems to not work after awhile. Before long, you end up with clothes that are retch inducing no mater how much you wash them. That isn't the case with 100% wool items. You can always reset the funk.



    As I said, "unless you are in NW Pacific conditions". The OP's home of San Fran is anything but. A nice wool insulating layer with a windbreaker when needed (which the OP likely has) is all one needs. BTW, I ride in MN winters with all wool save for the butt shorts and the shell (Duluth Trading Company pants/jacket). For this time of year (0d to 20d), is a light wool base layer top/bottom, a light wool jersey and aforementioned pants/jacket. For colder weather, its heavy duty wool base layer, a wool jersey and aforementioned pants/jacket. Oh, I have light and heavy wool balaclavas too.
    Believe it or not, I have 20yr old synthetic layers that don't have permanent funk. Granted, many that old don't fit anymore because I got fat. But still. And, no matter what you do to your wool, it still has its own unique aroma. Most people probably don't notice it, but I do. It's no better or worse than synthetics. It's just different.

    Lol - you respond to my "overhyping performance when wet" with an example in subfreezing temps. Go ride in nothing but wool when it's 40 deg and raining and you tell me that wool keeps you warm when it's wet. Bullshit. Similar conditions occur in places much more diverse than just the PNW.

  24. #24
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    I too find wool way overhyped and doesn't live up to the claims. That's not to say it's bad, I have many wool socks, but as base layers, and top-side insulation, I find it to be way over-rated and several studies have compared and basically confirmed this. For the garment weight, synthetic provides better warmth, it dries faster. There is marginally more heat retained by wool, but it's marginal, not what the virgin merino advocates would have you believe. As far as funk, most modern synthetics are fine if you wash them every few rides. They have treatments to help prevent it. I base it on effort, if I soaked something, I'll wash it immediately. If I didn't because it was colder, it can last at least a few rides before I wash it. No funk. I also use things like boot-heaters (well worth the money) to dry my boots and hang-dry my other layers under intense light. I also hang-dry all of my bike gear after washing it to prolong the service life, as drying is very tough on fabrics.

    I ride a lot in 40 degrees and rain, subfreezing, and more extreme cold. Wool has a premium price associated with it and I see the marketing is mainly an attempt to justify that premium. In reality, I find it's not warranted. High performance synthetics, pit-zips, vents, having different weight outer layers for different conditions, having packable jackets, give me a lot more versatility for conditions than blowing money for wool layers. One thing I have found to be significant about base layers is too loose is cold. They need to be fairly form-fitting.

    If you hate washing things though and want to wear the same jersey every day of the month, yeah, it's going to get funky. That's not me.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleKrieg View Post


    As I said, "unless you are in NW Pacific conditions". The OP's home of San Fran is anything but.
    Not sure if you've ever been in SF, but more often than not, there's fog covering the city and many of the trails, such as Skeggs, Pacifica, etc. In the winter, the rain is usually heavy, with the wet moist pacific storms that pound the sierras. It's a moist marine environment where the cold "penetrates" much better than in the dry. While not exactly the same as the PacNW, it's pretty damn close. I've been to both places. Riding in the fog is similar to riding in the light drizzle.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Not sure if you've ever been in SF
    I'm going to guess not. I've only been there once, for a weekend, but even I experienced the cool, damp mist/fog.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTTURNER View Post
    I really dislike an outlayer that doesn't breathe.
    My main issue. I HATE "technical" fabrics, because they are coated and I'll sweat in them.

    It's hard to find an uncoated nylon windbreaker or vest.

    I did see an uncoated Patagonia windbreaker at the LBS a few days ago. It's featherweight, beautifully made and very expensive ($119).

    Got DH a Castelli Gore-Tex Shake Dry jacket this summer for a big ride in New Mexico at elevation -- thunderstorms are typical in the afternoons. He didn't get rained on and has used it a few times since and likes it. Supposedly, it does what Gore-Tex is supposed to have done for the last 40 years or so -- be breathable without interior condensation.

    Anyway, I like a nylon vest and fleecy PI arm warmers over a base layer. When things get a bit warm, it's easy to strip off the arm warmers.
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  28. #28
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    Wow great thread. The thing I like about a vest over couple layers is the zipper. You can regulate as needed.

    Lots of outdoor outfitters make a running vest with polartec alpha, look into that material.

    Something like this:
    https://www.sierratradingpost.com/al...processed=true



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  29. #29
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    I tried this on yesterday: https://www.performancebike.com/shop...jacket-11-4207

    It looks promising, but I'm waiting for deeper discounts as Performance goes out of business. The fabric is like a double-thick, tightly woven jersey. It feels like it would let some air pass through; unlike taffeta, goretex, hardshell nylon, or the newer foamy "softshell" windstopper fabrics with fleece backing.

    I usually wear a mid weight underarmor-style compression base; anywhere from 1 to 3 tech fabric Tshirts; and then a long sleeve DH jersey when it's from 35-45 degrees. (This is on the road bike, group-riding with roadies. I run really hot, so my road comfort is probably similar to most people's MTB comfort.)

    My challenge is striking the balance between moisture wicking and wind resistance. I have to layer-up so the wind doesn't cut right through, but can't wear a true wind breaker because I will be totally saturated. Moisture needs to be able to migrate from the inside out and evaporate. But my skin needs to be buffered from the evaporative cooling by enough fabric thickness.

    For comparison, I could be comfortable down to 30 with a Tshirt and windstopper jacket, but it would be a clammy greenhouse inside.

  30. #30
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    Great point about vests. I do that alot. However, I have also used the predecessor to Patagonia's Houdini (the name escapes me). It is the most versatile piece I own. It has lasted thru hundreds of MTB rides, hikes, backpack trips, etc. It is the most breathable jacket anywhere. Get the Houdini. A couple of buddies have found it at 1/2 off or check ebay.

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    I was eyeballing some stuff at Performance too (and also waiting for better pricing) but ended up giving up. Liquidator is too crafty and shit is still too overpriced and it's getting too cold.

    Ended up picking up one of these from my LBS:
    https://www.specialized.com/us/en/de...=242938-151478

    Worked out nicely @ 46 degrees the other day (that's ice cold for us here in Phoenix.) It was actually too warm on the climbs, but perfection on the fast wind-chill descents. Pretty easy to regulate temps tho with the front zipper, and even sleeve removal/vest conversion option being built in (and a storage pocket on the back easily big enough to store the sleeves mid-ride.)

    Going back to my Grand Canyon r2r2r event, where a wind shell plus smartwool long sleeve layer underneath was all it took to survive the icy north rim, i'd just use that same layering method but with this jacket now if it got truly cold. Have yet to find temps in AZ where that combo isn't sufficient (at least so long as you're exerting some energy.)

  32. #32
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    Big fan of my windproof fleece vest. Great layer for those warm winter temps. Pair with a merino wool base layers, wool sweater over that. Take the vest off if needed to not overheat. I shop used for my wool sweaters at thrift stores. Sometimes I can find one 2 sizes too big, wash in warm water to shrink and felt down to size.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddoh View Post
    Great point about vests. I do that alot. However, I have also used the predecessor to Patagonia's Houdini (the name escapes me). It is the most versatile piece I own. It has lasted thru hundreds of MTB rides, hikes, backpack trips, etc. It is the most breathable jacket anywhere. Get the Houdini. A couple of buddies have found it at 1/2 off or check ebay.

    I just picked up a Houdini and it is perfect for mtb. Packs down incredibly small, block the wind, very breathable, and the hood covers my helmet, and doesn't limit my vision. I got caught in some cold rain the other day, and this kept me warm until I made it home.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I just picked up a Houdini and it is perfect for mtb. Packs down incredibly small, block the wind, very breathable, and the hood covers my helmet, and doesn't limit my vision. I got caught in some cold rain the other day, and this kept me warm until I made it home.
    Yup...agree. I've been a big user of Houdini jackets for a while now. Even if caught in a big rain, you'll get wet but still traps the heat well enough to get you back to home/car.

  35. #35
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    In 20 degree F temps today, I rode with 2 layered jerseys and my Arcteryx Alpha AR shell. The thing almost bankrupted me but every time I wear it, I appreciate its incredible design and tech. Not a drop of sweat today, and nice and toasty from start to finish. The thing fits like a tailor made piece of clothing and the neck design is brilliant. It keeps my neck and face warm, fits over my helmet, and is infinitely adjustable despite all its simplicity. The shell is feather light. I cant even tell I am wearing it.

    10 out of 10, but pricey AF.

    Breathable zip-up for cool weather riding?-22d9d241-de4e-41b6-86d6-d22408c4ac8c.png

  36. #36
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    "Yup...agree. I've been a big user of Houdini jackets for a while now. Even if caught in a big rain, you'll get wet but still traps the heat well enough to get you back to home/car."

    I've found that it takes a little while before it wets thru. I've made it back w/o getting wet in light-to-medium showers.

    "Big fan of my windproof fleece vest. Great layer for those warm winter temps."

    I have a Mountain Hardware windproof fleece vest. It actually works too well during any exertion. It's gets too hot for any temps above 20F while MTBing. For under 20F and every other activity, I love it.

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